Subject PDP

The stool project was a great opportunity for me to work with a live brief- I had done this before, so I knew more or less what to expect, but I find that I work quite well with strong guidelines; having too much freedom means that sometimes it takes me too long to get really stuck into a project, whereas if I have all the criteria to start with then it’s easier to know where to take it. While I do enjoy design work, and I appreciated the time I was given to improve my CAD skills which will definitely come in useful in the future, I do feel as though we weren’t able to start making the stool itself until a bit too late into the brief. I became frustrated at how often I was sent back to the drawing board before being allowed the chance to make mistakes, and learn how to make something in prototype phases. I wish that I had started to make the stool itself earlier on in the year, so I could have had a full sized model rather than just a maquette, but I am pleased with the outcome for it: I learned how to do a lot of new things in order to make even just the maquette, such as laminating and welding.

Make Your Mark started off a little more slowly than the stool project, but was far more introspective. This project forced me to really evaluate what it is that I like to do as a maker, and what I want to continue doing in the future. Looking back on my work, I feel that I have improved my skills and knowledge. While I didn’t create something layered and intricate, I do feel that I have met my goals in creating something that demonstrates how versatile perspex can be using handmade methods as opposed to mass manufacture.

Also that a lot of my inspiration seems to come from Scandinavian design, for example Tord Boontje and IKEA. I’m glad that I decided to take a more product design route, with the possibility of a business emerging from the outcomes, rather than my initial ideas.

I don’t feel that I met my overall standards of quality, but I think that might be a futile endeavour; there will always be things I will want to improve or change about my work. One thing I have improved in, however, is the confidence to make mistakes. Previously, I would be too afraid of wasting materials and over-plan what I was doing but this year, particularly for Make Your Mark, I have benefited from testing and experimenting more liberally than I otherwise would have, while also trying to push the yield of my material to its limits. The testing and re-making of my pieces really helped me to improve the overall quality, and allowed me to go in directions that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

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Constellation PDP (diss. prop.)

I found it quite difficult to settle on a topic for my dissertation proposal. Initially I wanted to write about a topic I had covered before in first year, Japanese subculture, but I was advised against doing so, as it would become stale. After that, I searched for other ideas that I liked and came up with a few that were ‘alright’ but wasn’t particularly passionate about, such as installation artwork, or stage productions. In the end, after another tutorial, I finally decided on writing about kimono, as it is a topic I am already fairly knowledgeable about.

Finding research was a lot of fun for me; I really enjoyed reading about the history of kimono. Books on this topic are usually filled with beautiful pictures and not very dense writing. Listening to other people talking about their chosen topics I became glad that I chose something more sociologically, historically based, rather than philosophical, because I know I would have ended up hating that.

I visited Martha Lee, who helped me to track down a lot more relevant books and articles to help with my dissertation, and recommended that I try for an inter-library loan so that I can get my hands on some of the books that aren’t in Llandaff library.

I am quite pleased with the outcome, and really enjoyed learning so much about the garment and writing it all out in the lit review. If I were to improve my work, I would focus on using in-text citations, and making it flow more like an actual essay, rather than an information dump. Looking at it all together I am actually quite proud of myself for taking in so much information, but I am well aware that I will find the next phase a lot more difficult.

Constellation PDP

Before I started this module, I feel like I already knew much of the material that was being taught to us, that it was ‘common sense’, and I became irritated with the way some of the academics wrote. I thought that there was too much passion in the way that Abrams in particular handled his words, as I had thought previously that in order to become a published author, you needed to have a certain sense of detachment from your writings. I found, as we read more, that I actually did agree with a lot that he was saying; for example that the way our language works can be a hindrance to understanding concepts. I have thought this for a while myself, and now wherever I can, I am even more conscious of how I phrase things, to ensure that I am understood in the best clarity possible. Abrams reminds us that we humans are not in fact the centre of the universe, no matter how much we would like that to be true.

Wallace’s writing, I think, has had the most impact on me. His contagious curiosity in the way he thinks about things that aren’t often thought about was actually rather touching. His style was more like story-telling, which was comfortable and familiar to me as I spent most of my childhood reading books. After having studied him, I feel as though I am more aware of the little things around us: considering how life would be like if we didn’t have one specific thing is very interesting to me, and the way Wallace approached this concept like a science fiction novel was inspiring. I am not particularly talented at ‘academic style writing’, and I was glad to be reminded that I do not have to write in a way that is dry or boring, if I don’t want to.

The second session was the one most relevant to my course as a maker. Ingold’s writing on hylomorphism and the agency of materials is important to the way a maker must approach their making, taking into considerations the limitations of the material that they use. The idea is, of course, important, but the idea alone does not an object make. The next part of his text was more difficult for me to fully understand: the difference between an object and a thing. I understand where he’s coming from: everything that exists has an impact or acts on it’s surroundings, and is impacted, or acted, upon in return. This constitutes a ‘thing’, an object is completely within the maker’s control, but a thing can act on it’s own; it can rot, melt, or fray. Everything is not separate and individual, but finding where to draw the line at where one thing ends and another begins is a bit of a headache.

I enjoyed Hodder’s writing, as he describe humans’ relationships with things as a symbiotic relationship, each member of the relationship needing the other’s input to remain in use. A wall is necessary for humans to keep control, but a wall requires upkeep. The input from both sides of the relationship are what keeps the whole thing going. I struggled to find something I enjoyed to apply these concepts to, and writing my own essay was very difficult for me. In the end, I applied the concept of object agency and ‘thingness’ to the one ring, from Lord of the Rings. This concept was the hardest for me to understand, so it was a challenge to write an essay on it, but I think I succeeded. Writing about it in regards to something that I am interested in, and applying it to that helped me to understand it better. I think that in the future, if I am struggling with something, I should try and do a similar technique and link it to a scenario that I know well, so that it becomes easier for me.

The third session was about the process of making itself, using Tonkinwise’s ‘design away’ theory. This session made me aware of how much waste there is in making any one object, and has made me think a bit more on how to get as much as I can out of one piece of material. Even before, I hated wasting things, but now that I’ve had to think more about where the things I have come from, I’m even more aware that so much material goes to waste. This session also made me wonder what the point of making anything was for a while: the concept of forced obsolescence was alarming. I don’t want to make something only for the recipient to throw something they already had away, or for something to arrive later and have my object discarded, so I will have to think carefully about the quality of my creations.

The fourth and final session expanded upon human relationship with the world itself, using Klée’s tree model. This diagram helped me to understand where a lot of our inspiration comes from. Furthermore, an important aspect of this study is humility; we should remember that we are not superior to the earth in any way, and thinking this way can be harmful.

Studying these concepts, while not entirely original to me, has reminded me that we should not become arrogant as humans, and try to remember that we are not the only things in the universe.

The whole purpose of this module was to try and think of things as a not-human, or as if humans aren’t part of the equation. This is not possible in the slightest, since we are humans and a human thinking about not being human just reinforces the fact that we are human, but the act of doing so broadens one’s horizons and makes people think a little differently. In the words of Uncle Iroh, “It is important to draw wisdom from different places. If you take it from only one place it become rigid and stale.” Avatar: the Last Airbender (2005-2008)

Feild Reflection PDP

 

The first field module that I did was Global Perspectives; flying to South Korea and spending two weeks learning about the culture and history of the country. I very much enjoyed the trip, and feel that I learned a lot- my time was certainly not wasted, but when I came back I did find that I had missed out on some things that happened while I was gone, particularly constellation lectures. This was not a huge ordeal, as I was able to catch up on the information that I had missed quite easily. Some of the information that I had learned while there did influence my work; the seating culture informed part of my site and space project, after I visited the Korea Furniture Museum and experienced what it might have been like, for royalty at least, to live in a house which was built with the idea that every day tasks would be carried out at floor level. I do, however, wish that I had been more outgoing while I was there, and made more of a concerted effort to make friends.

The second module, Magical Objects, was a little less useful to me overall.  As a maker, I am used to having higher expectations placed on the physical outcomes of my work, so I was a little disappointed that we were only working with cardboard, and air drying clay. I did enjoy the fast paced nature of this module, however, after a long, drawn out project that had lasted an entire term, having a succession of smaller, quicker projects was refreshing. It also made me focus a little more on the conceptual side of my work, as my work is often informed by the material I am working with at the time, or practicality. I found that my priority, when making, was the quality of the object that I made, which was different to a lot of the other students involved, who were focused more on the concept behind their chosen pieces. Their work almost always required more explaining than mine did, but I felt that my work was different because I built it differently; rather than sticking to the templates we were given, I varied my work and made it my own.

After discussing and sharing what I learnt with my course mates, who were on other modules, I felt like I had picked/been given relatively easy modules both times. he pay-off of this was that I had more time to finish my subject project, and was able to polish my outcome for that more than others. It didn’t feel as though the workload I had was as high as the others, or as practical in the long run; in retrospect I would have liked to have taken the opportunity to do some group work in either the SHED project, or the business module, as that would have given me skills that I could use in the future. Although these other modules seemed a little more stressful, and high demand, I think that I would have gained valuable information.

 

Magical Objects PDP

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During the course of this field module I have learnt more about foreign cultures and traditions through the education of their superstitions: for example the Dogon who use their masks purely for functional use, not for fun like in western culture Venetian the masks are specifically for one purpose, and only that, and the wearer need permission to wear a certain type of mask from the person in charge of allocating roles for festivals. Also learning about magic soap and listening to the lectures and presentations that the course leader prepared were very interesting, as I enjoy learning more about culture and tradition in this sense.

At first I was a little disappointed with the expectations that were placed on us as a group: my experience with most projects that I have encountered so far at university have been an overarching project with a large final piece to be made at the end, but this module has been more focused on smaller projects. But as the course went on, I found it refreshing to be doing shorter projects for a while, especially after spending so long on the previous project I had been doing. It was good to be doing projects with shorter, stricter deadlines where I didn’t have time to overthink what I was doing, and could jump straight into making something with my first ideas.

Even though I enjoyed this module, I do feel as though we could have been pushed a little harder to get more things done, as I am more used to having a higher workload- when compared to the Shed Some Light field, this one seems a lot less intense. Being on this module made me more aware of my confidence with my ability to translate my ideas into 3D forms compared to other disciples.

One of our projects was to carve into a bar of soap, which I could have been more experimental with- if I were to redo that project, I would start with thinking of different ways to carve the soap into different shapes. I don’t think I would consider carving into soap again, however, despite how easy it was to work with, because the limitations of size and novelty of it.

I did not learn any new material processes, but the contextual knowledge that I have gained on this module could easily be applied to my subject area if I decide to make something related to reliquaries or masks for a project in the future. The concepts and ideas that can be gained from looking outwards and experiencing other cultures are worth researching into more, as foreign ways of thinking can spark inspiration. It was interesting to see how fine artists and illustrators go about brainstorming and ideas development; there was a lot of abstract and representational imagery whereas the way I do it is usually more like problem solving.

 

 

Constellation Overview (PDP)

Personally, I really enjoyed both of my constellation subjects. I very much enjoy learning new things so I was anticipating each session. While others may have been resistant to to attending these lectures/seminars, I looked forward to going to them because for one, I know the information might well be useful in the long run, and two, I ended up with both of my preferred topics. I think receiving the subjects which I asked for helped my motivation to attend immensely.

Continue reading Constellation Overview (PDP)